It seems like only a few days ago that I was hell bent on a new writing project, but it turns out that was weeks ago and I haven’t done a damn thing. Well, that’s not true – I created a new document and I gave it a working title.
The “blank white page” — NO — I’m not doing that post. And besides, that’s not the problem. I ain’t scared; I’m busy.
So, on to things I’ve been doing that aren’t writing.
1 – working.
We’ve had two significant employee departures in the last two months. I’m very disappointed that those two individuals didn’t have a better work experience, but don’t cry for them; they’re going somewhere less stressful.
So, being a complete idiot, I’ve decided to go get the expertise those two people have (had) rather than quickly hire their replacements (which is its own problem).
When I started with the company I’m at – way back in 11/09 – it was a brand new industry for me (in some important ways), but after being involved at a certain level for almost three years, it turns out I’ve picked up a thing or two. So, in the case of one of the people that’s left, I’ve been able to take their work on and do a pretty good job at it for the last couple months.
The second departure was a bit more impactful. So, I’ve spent the last two weeks completely consumed with learning what amounts to a massive database program, in all its vagaries and complications – and I’ve been doing that by a combination of trial and error, video tutorials, and staring at the wall with my jaw clenched. But as of this past weekend, I’ve successfully deployed a junior version of what we do in my own house. Bam.
Now I just need to be able to replicate that in homes that are anywhere from 2-10 times the size of my house. Yikes! But, it’s the same recipe, just serves more people. (trying to ignore all the added opportunities for error a larger system introduces…)
Wish me luck.
2 – waiting.
At best I’d say I’m pretty methodical. At worst I think it’s fair to say that I’m obsessive. In some cases (work) this serves me pretty well, in that I’m able to complete cycles of action without losing sight of the endgame. In writing, that doesn’t always serve me very well. I sent out my completed book to some readers about a month ago and I’m still waiting to hear back from most of them – which is not a commentary on those readers in any way. They aren’t telling me to wait on other projects, they’re just taking a completely reasonable amount of time with a huge favor they’re doing me.
But, I’m definitely preoccupied with that book. I feel pretty blocked about working on something else while that “project” is still in motion – and given what’s happening in my pay-for-play life, I’ve allowed it to be a big fat excuse. I’ve made it ok to just wait.
3 – reading.
Compartmentalization being one of my only tools, my reading dropped off while I was most actively working on my book. I have a long list and I’m trying to crank through it. So far work and need for sleep is edging out that desire more than I’d like, but I’m getting some reading in.
4 – music
I recorded a song (a cover of a Wilco song) recently, which was a lot of fun. I’ve never really been big on playing/recording other people’s music because it just seems funner to make up something, but I’m seeing the appeal for sure right now. It’s a little easier to understand what’s right/wrong when working with someone else’s song, and that feels like the right kind of headspace for me right now.
This is kind of BS, but I’ve been slowly working on the protagonist’s character for the next book – and knowing that it will be in present day allows me to use contemporary music as an element for understanding their character – so I’ve been listening to a lot of specific music to further that understanding.
Yeah, that looks as lean in print as it did in my head…Well, anyway, I’m kind of passively working on the next book. Pffthhhttttt!!
Which brings me to the real reason I wanted to write this blog:
Maroon is the worst car color.
I would love to pretend that I have a sophisticated aesthetic sensibility, but people that know me may know of my (perhaps) bizarre aversion to drawing attention to myself. A lot of that gets filtered into things that seem like aesthetic choices. For instance, probably 90% of my clothing is either blue, black, gray, or brown – though I have my own obsessive bargaining system that allows for more attention-seeking colors on occasion (like dark green!).
And this weird sensibility about color most definitely extends to cars.
There are certain colors that I think look “ok” that aren’t trying to draw attention to themselves: black, white, silver, gray, navy blue (see what I mean?). And depending on shade, shininess, metallic effect, glossy (or matte), I am totally prepared to pre-judge you based on your car.
If you drive a bright yellow car? I probably think you’re an idiot. Maybe if you told me it was a gift – which actually happened once. When I lived in Oakland, my next door neighbor had a gigantor yellow truck with some kind of dinosaur-like stencil on it. Well he worked on one of the Jurassic Park movies, so he gets a pass. The rest of you assholes? Nope.
Part of this stems from my own outlook on the utility of a car (duh), because I definitely view a vehicle as a method for getting places and getting things done – so, “can I fit things that I need to fit in it” – or – “will it be adequate and reliable in transporting me to the places I need to go” DEFINITELY outweigh what I want people to think about my purchasing style – because as I said – I don’t really want people to think about me in that way.
Now I don’t want to overlook something, which is that only an asshole would unilaterally clown on what likely represents thousands upon thousands of cars on the road today – and that perhaps many of the people driving those cars aren’t exactly in their first choice of vehicle. Many decisions go into buying a car, and one of them is certainly finances. I once drove a sky-blue Ford Taurus for a period of time, because that was the car I could afford to have. I gave myself a pass on that one, and anyone else is welcome to claim theirs for the same reasons.
But when I see a brand-new, maroon, mid-level or above vehicle, I just want to grab the driver by the shoulders, press against them with my face right in theirs – and with my eyes straining against the horrifying wonder of the world – ask, “Whyyyyy?!”
I think this all started with a horrible experience I had.
A friend invited me to their wedding in rural Virginia. It was a summertime wedding and I was already leery of what I knew would be a hot and humid experience, bookended by cross-country flights. I could go on and on about why I was anxious about both of those things, but suffice it so say I wasn’t looking forward to it. But I was definitely not prepared for there to be a total blackout all along the east coast that lasted for multiple days. We drove hours outside of DC and arrived at night, completely disoriented, and I don’t think that disorientation passed the entire trip – staying at a cabin-like house along some river I never learned the name of, fighting off mosquitoes and drinking too much. Grimy. The last day I was there involved cleaning a friend’s ferret in the river because it had tipped itself over in its carrier, getting itself covered in its poo and pee (gross).
On the return trip I slept the whole flight home and developed a horrible infection – or was it a blood clot? I never knew for sure. But I knew that I was incredibly sick and could barely stand on my left foot; the saphenous vein in my leg was dark red and swollen, visible through the skin. Treatment for the supposed infection caused an allergic reaction – and the whole thing ended with me wearing a compression stocking for a period of weeks (and losing my job, but that’s a whole other story).
But the one thing I remember very well from that trip, was that on the drive from the airport to where we stayed, I saw more maroon cars in one concentrated stretch than I ever have again in my life. No joke. It was all I could talk about for that drive, “there’s another one! And another one!” It was kind of amazing. But I definitely noticed how much I thought they sucked.
Maroon seems to be the ultimate non-choice. It’s the color you end up with, not the color you want. It doesn’t even have the dignity to be brown. It’s what happens when you take all the flash and compensation out of red. It’s warm – but not hot; it’s somewhere between blood and rust. It’s the 1992 that never ended, still sliding that Alice in Chains tape into the console. It smells like a fading pine tree air freshener and it’s always running late, apologizing in ways both unconvincing and annoying. Maroon is probably stoned, but isn’t sharing.
Maroon is the guy that can’t get anyone’s attention, except when there’s nothing else around and he catches their lip curling in disgust as they make eye contact. Maroon is angst; it’s afraid. Maroon is writing in its journal right now, eyeing people on the street through a streaked window, too scared to engage. Maroon doesn’t have anything good in the fridge, and just nickels and pennies in its dresser drawer (because it already spent the dimes and quarters on a microwaveable burrito and three bottles of Budweiser), right next to that single tie that it never has occasion to wear, you know, the one that mom said looks nice.
Maroon spends its time wondering what went wrong, but is sure it’s someone else’s fault.
And I will always associate it with loss of livelihood, filth, and pain.
* NEXT TIME: I discuss my dislike for the faux-adobe revival in Santa Fe, New Mexico!!